Narrative ephemera : documents in storytelling worlds
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PURPOSE: Some virtual, immersive stories are filled with documents that users must locate and interact with to experience a narrative. Exploring a new area of inquiry in the information science field, this study focuses on individuals' experiences with documents in a particular 3D storytelling world. DESIGN/METHODOLOGY/APPROACH: Using a qualitative approach, this study examined user interactions with virtual documents to better understand the relationship between information behavior and narrative spaces. This study employed observations of users in a story-rich world, followed by semi-structured interviews using virtual artifacts and stimulated recall. FINDINGS: Using an interpretative phenomenological analysis, this study found that 1) environmental and personal influences, 2) the search and the narrative experience, and 3) expectation and confirmation events surround a user's experiences with documents in storytelling worlds. These influences and experiences determine the user's relationship with these documents, which may be considered narrative ephemera--objects that a user accumulates to create and structure a story. This model of narrative ephemera depicts the user's search for narrative cadence, fulfilment of competence needs, and visions of story events or the user's own lived experiences. Individuals may experience these phenomena from a document, shifting back and forth between the designers' intentions and the users' own realities. ORIGINALITY/VALUE (mandatory): This study represents a first attempt to investigate information behavior in a distributed narrative space: a virtual world filled with documents. This study reveals that commonly employed information behavior theories, as well as literary and motivation theories, may be well-suited for investigating story worlds. Continued research in this area of inquiry may benefit educators as well as designers of digital stories.
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